HR Management & Compliance

Remote Workers Who Rely on Technology Seek a Human Connection, Says Survey

Polycom—a content collaboration solutions provider—and Future Workplace—an HR executive network and research firm—has released results of a new global study of 25,234 workers entitled, “The Human Face of Remote Working”. The study uncovered how collaborative technologies have made employees more empathetic and build better coworker relationships, despite the remote working stigma of laziness and isolation.Nearly all (98%) of employees said that collaborative technologies make it easier to get to know, or build relationships, with coworkers and nearly half said that they know colleagues more personally thanks to video conferencing.

“We predicted that 2016 would be the ‘year of video’, and it’s satisfying to know that people are starting to adopt this way of working. What it also tells us is that more businesses need to be able to offer collaboration tools—to enable that human contact that people crave—or risk losing out to those businesses who are able to offer flexibility and have access to talent and retain talent as a result,” said Mary McDowell, CEO of Polycom, in a press release of the findings.

The study also revealed that an employee’s reliance on technology, especially video conferencing, actually drives them to pick up the phone more regularly. In addition, with the acceleration of corporate flexibility programs, and the desire for remote work situations, two-thirds said their favorite colleagues work in a different location.

Additional Highlights from the Report Include:

Flexible working is on the rise. Nearly three out of every four employees say their company offers flexible working and 32% said they regularly work remotely. An entire 79% of employees said they work with at least one person who isn’t based in the same office as them.

When it comes to their preferred remote work location, 40% said home office, 24% said personal office, and 11% said open plan office.  The top drivers of remote work location preference are: helps them get in the right frame of mind, allows them to focus, and inspires their creativity.

Technology powers the global remote workforce. Of those surveyed, 95% use collaboration technology to connect with coworkers and over a third use it multiple times a day. Also in the study, 90% said collaboration technologies are for improving productivity between teams in different locations.

Remote working has benefits and challenges. Employees who work remotely benefit from control over their work/life balance (70%), more productivity (63%), and the ability to care for their children (38%). Most remote workers (62%) fear that other employees don’t think they are working as hard as them.  Remote workers believe that they can overcome this fear by having their company invest more in collaborative technology and have clearer policies for flexible working.

“There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time, and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about,” said Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace.

Survey Methodology

The survey was commissioned by Polycom Inc. and was conducted by Morar Consulting. Sample Data collected from 25,234 employees across 12 countries, which included: United States, Canada, Brazil, Japan, United Kingdom, India, Singapore, Germany, Russia, France, Australia, and China. Of those surveyed, 55% had manager job titles or above, 58% of surveyed are responsible for care in some capacity, and 68% surveyed are parents.

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